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This is a simple smoked duck recipe based on the "Hot-Smoked Duck Ham" recipe in Rhuhlman & Polcyn. I haven't found many recipes for smoked duck breast but I would love to hear ideas for improvement from others who have experience smoking Duck Margret.

 

2lbs Moulard Duck Margret Breast - crosshatch fat 1" - prick meat side w/ fork

 

Cure

1 L water

1/3 c kosher salt

1/2 t pink salt (Ruhlman calls for 3 t and says "The pink salt keeps the meat pink..." which sounds like BS to me but might be related to a question I outline below)

1/4 c raw sugar

1/4 c real maple syrup

1/2 t dry thyme

1 bay leaf

1/2 t chopped dry sage

1 t black pepper corns

1/4 c Madeira wine

 

Combine all ingredients and simmer until all salt and sugar is dissolved - allow it to cool, then refrigerate overnight. Cure breasts for 24 hrs (maybe longer, see below), then remove, rinse, and pat dry. Allow duck to continue drying on a wire rack in refrigerator for 24 hrs.

 

Smoke skin side up at 180-190 F using your preferred woods chips (I used black cherry). As always, there's disagreement about the ideal internal temp. Classic preparations call for duck to be served medium rare, 135 F IT. The FDA says 165 F IT. I stopped mine at 155 F IT. Allow the breasts to cool on a wire rack on the counter top for an hour and them refrigerate overnight. Serve cold and sliced.

 

So, this duck tastes great, but I'm hoping to make two improvements next time. First, it's very savory and could use something like a sweet finishing glaze during the final stages of cooking. Second, there is a very noticeable color problem (see last pic), where the meat turns for red to yellowish towards the fat side of the breast. My best guess is that the cure can't easily penetrate the fat side so that section is essentially uncured, or at least less cured than the rest of the breast. Alternatively, maybe Ruhlman had it right and the excessive amount of pink salt he calls for is necessary to get it pink/red all the way through.